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The Beck Week That Was; Huffington vs. Ailes

Reported by Guest Blogger - February 7, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Aunty Em

Our last exciting episode of TBWTW ended with a mighty cliffhanger worthy of The Perils of Pauline: Glenn Beck’s Fox News boss, Roger Ailes, had defended his Great White Hope from an undercard challenger, Arianna Huffington, on ABC’s This Week. It was still being buzzed all over the innertubes and airwaves as the new week began, even though it was not a classic smackdown, in a Frasier-Ali-sense. Arianna never really laid a glove on him.

That’s not to say she didn’t try. She threw several haymakers, a few jabs, and a hard right cross. However, Ailes is a canny street fighter, having learned everything he needed to know while in the Nixon White House. He simply danced and dodged and, like any good street fighter, waited for his opponent to get tired. In that, he misjudged his adversary. Given enough time, The Huffington Haymaker would have ‘dialed in’ and landed a few blows. Unfortunately, Ailin’ Ailes danced and dodged and simply ran out the clock.

The bout began slowly with Barbara Walters referencing the Fox News Channel’s feud with the White House—the previous cage match—which Ailes insisted is resolved.

“We have a good dialogue and I saw the President and his wife at the media Christmas party. They were very gracious, very nice, both of them. And we have a dialogue every day with them,” Ailes said.

Possibly trying to promote another Top Card Match Up, Barbara Walters interjected, “Oh, shucks. It was more fun the other way.”

Always obliging, AIles responded, “Well, I’ll pick a fight if you want. I mean, I’d be happy to get into one. But, I think, there will be others. We have differences, but, uhhh—“

This was the exact moment that Barbara Walters tagged her teammate. Arianna entered the fray.

“But Roger, it’s just not a question of picking a fight. And—Aren’t you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using? Which is, after all, inciting the American People. There’s a lot of suffering out there, as you know, and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who’s going to be the next in the [inaudible]…

“Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people so I think he was probably accurate. Also, I’m a little—”

“No, he was talking about this administration.”

“I think he speaks English, I don’t know, but I mean, I don’t misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized * for, but that happens in live television, so I don’t think it's—If we start going around as the Word Police, uhh, in this business, we will be a—”

“It’s not about the Word Police,” began Arianna, winding up her haymaker. “It’s about something deeper. It’s about the fact that there’s a tradition, as the historian Richard Hofstadter said, in American politics of the 'paranoid style.' And, the paranoid style is dangerous when there’s real pain out there.”

Yet, Ailes was ready for this knock-out punch, as if he knew it was coming and had already practiced to avoid the blow. “I agree with you. I read something on your blog that said I looked like J. Edgar Hoover, had a face like a fist, and I was essentially a malignant tumor. And I thought—And then he got nasty after that.”

“That was never by anybody that we [inaudible]…”

“Then he really went nasty and I thought, ‘Arianna really ought to cut this out.’”

And that’s when Barbara Walters changed the conversation to Sarah Palin, the former co-Governor of Alaska, signaling the end of the round.

Little seen, however, was this little video posted by our friends at Think Progress showing the conversation that continued in the Green Room after the show ended, with Ailes absent.

HUFFINGTON: Well I wanted to know why Fox stopped showing the retreat — the Republican retreat with the President 20 minutes before it finished. It was clearly riveting television, by any standard, whether you agree with the President or not. Why did they?

And my answer is — since Roger is not able to answer for himself — is that it went against their framing of the President. Their framing of the President is that he’s radical, that he’s taking us down a dark, fascist or Bolshevik future (depending on the day). And there he was, rational, charming, and in full command of his facts. So the narrative fell apart and so the cameras stopped showing what was happening.

PAUL KRUGMAN [also a guest that day]: Yeah, I mean it’s — I thought it was actually quite funny except it has real consequences. There you have Roger Ailes, with this powerful, popular news network, whining about how the media are unfair to Republicans. I mean, he is a powerful person in the media — and of course, you know, “Fair and Balanced” is truly Orwellian and we know that. So it’s clear that Fox — I felt like yelling to him “you can’t handle the truth!” Because that was what was actually happening on the Fox coverage.

The push-back on Ailes’ comments started almost immediately. It was mentioned at the very end of my column of last week, as I was watching it live while I finishing the column. News Hounds’ Ellen took a look at just the smack down, as did many other blogs, pro-Ailes, pro-Huffington, or dispassionate.

Arianna produced her own post-mortem of the fight the next day, in which she smacked down every feeble lie and misdirection by Roger Ailes on This Week. Admittedly this is far easier to do when your opponent is not actually present to spew more lies and bullshit.

It was only a matter of time before the ever thin-skinned Beck went on his Radio Drama Theatre to defend himself. Never satisfied with simple language when hate and hyperbolic rhetoric will do, The Beckereeno did it with far more lies and misdirection than his boss Roger Ailes had the previous day. At least Ailes never denied Beck used the word “slaughter.”

BECK: I don't even know if I've ever used the word "slaughtered." And if I used the word "slaughtered," if it wasn't in a context of Mao, Stalin, or Hitler, it was in the idea that the truth is being slaughtered by this administration... not saying that this administration is going to slaughter anyone.

GRAY: Never, never.

Spurred back into action by the most obvious of lies, Huffington showed she was more than ready to go a few more rounds. This time she took on the Great White Hope, Glenn Beck, directly with an article titled Glenn Beck Goes After Me, But Forgets His Show Is on Video and Lies About Things He “Never, Never” Said. In it she took apart, step by step, all the lies and misdirection by both Ailes and Beck.

Brave New Films was far more concise. In a 36 second video, they show Ailes and The Beckerhead denying the “slaughtered” comment and then the actual “slaughted” comment.

Then it came time for Bill Mann to push back. I had never really heard of Mr. Mann before, until I had read his HuffPo piece on Monday, Sorry That I Hurt Fox News Czar Roger Ailes’ Tender Feelings, even though it was clear he was not really sorry. It was Mann who compared Ailes to J. Edgar Hoover and said he had a face like a fist. What’s more, Mann also noted “that [Ailes claimed] I'd referred to him as a ‘malignant tumor.’ I'd actually called him ‘a malignant tumor on the body politic.’ (But why quibble?).”

Now it all made sense. Ailes, who controls the biggest megaphone in the American Corporate Media Megaplex, has as thin a skin as his prodigy (progeny?) Beckereeno. Furthermore, he doesn’t even use his own network to, laughingly and lyingly, defend his big ratings star. He peddled his crap on ABC, obviously waiting in ambush to use Mann’s column to deflect any blows Huffington might have landed...and he didn’t even get that right. In Mann’s snarky mea culpa he excoriated Ailes for putting such incendiary people as Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck on the public airwaves. However, Mann’s best line quotes Edward R. Murrow, a journalistic hero to even a self-admitted non-journalist like Glenn Beck, who once compared himself to Edward R. Morrow by saying he was no Edward R. Morrow and then proved it by putting words in Morrow’s mouth he never said. In fact, no one ever said them. Beck not only put the words into the wrong mouth, but quoted it inaccurately besides. That’s why his history lessons are so much fun.

Anyway, Mann quoted Morrow as saying, “Just because your voice is amplified by the airwaves, doesn't mean that your opinions have any more validity than back in the days when they only carried down to the other end of the bar.”

Odd that Mann would use a quote with that analogy. Odder still was when, twice during the week, Bill “Loofah Lad” O’Reilly used the same analogy to defend Beck’s bluster, to Jon Stewart and Time’s Joe Klein in separate interviews in The Whirling Dervish Zone.

O'Reilly: He's got a blackboard out there, he's got a phone to the White House -- look, he is everyman sitting on a barstool. Why shouldn't everyman have a show?

Klein: No, no, he is Father Coughlin trying to delude and entertain the American people.

O'Reilly: That's such baloney. That's the left-wing line, that this guy is a threat to the union. If anybody thinks Glenn Beck is a threat to the union, they're insane!

Note Klein’s comparison of Beck to demagogue Father Charles Coughlin, a comparison made in this space back in November and repeated many times since all over the innertubes. David Neiwert, who has already debunked Beck’s laughable documentary, even played The Beckerhead’s own game “Compare and Contrast,” looking at Beck and Father Coughlin. Not surprisingly, to anyone who has watched Beck’s show, there are more similarities than points of divergence.

When O’Reilly interviewed Stewart, News Hounds' Julie told us:

O'Reilly lamely attempted to defend Fox, saying, "It's the narrative of a couple of guys, a Republican, Sean Hannity, and a guy, uh, uh, Glenn Beck, who's basically Everyman."

Stewart was aghast. "What do you mean, he's Everyman? What do you mean, he's Everyman?"

"It means that he doesn't shill for any party, he just spouts," O'Reilly said weakly.

"What!"

"If you think that Beck shills for the Republican Party, you're out of your mind," O'Reilly said, again testy.

While I leave it to others at News Hounds to unspin The No Spin Zone, Loofah Lad’s calling Beck “everyman” is simply ludicrous. It’s not “every man” who earns north of $20 million dollars per year and has his own radio and tee vee shows. And, “every man” doesn’t hook up a Hot Line to the White House, unless they are delusional. [The jury is still out on that one.] Trying to turn the hateful Beck into the lovable and cuddly Norm Peterson, on Cheers, is simply a non-starter.

However, Beck and The Huffington were still not done with their Battle Royale. After a few more radio remarks by Beck on Tuesday, Arianna said, “So, to review the ever-changing explanations: Beck never used the word "slaughter" -- until it was proven that he did. Then he only used it in reference to Mao, Stalin, or Hitler -- until it was proven that this wasn't the case. Then, when he used it, he wasn't referring to the Obama administration, he was referring to Andy Stern. Then he was referring to Obama -- but didn't mean it literally.

“Got it? You might need to use Beck's trademark chalkboard to keep track.”

Trying to keep track of why Ailes is mad at Huffington, why Mann is mad at Ailes, why Beck is mad at Huffington, why O’Reilly is mad at Stewart, why Stewart is made at Beck, why Fox News is mad at the POTUS, and why everybody is mad at Glenn Beck is practically a full time job. That’s why I’m not bothering to write about his show this week. Had I bothered, it would have been similar to every one of my other columns because The Glenn Beck Show was no different this week than any other, as I have been lamenting for weeks.

However, following this convoluted story, which arose out of a few minutes of utter bullshit spewing out of Roger Ailes’ mouth last Sunday, was a lot of fun, and just a bit frustrating. It was like being a teacher in Junior High School and trying to get to the bottom of a school feud. While it’s known that Mary and Sally got into a punch-up in the schoolyard, once you start unraveling the story you find out that this girl said that thing about this boy, who ratted out his friend, who told his sister that another girl was talking smack about his girlfriend, who told Mary, who insisted that Sally meet her in the parking lot after school. By the time Sally and Mary were finally mixing it up, no one any longer knew what the fight was about.

* All the innertubes are trying to figure out which “unfortunate thing, which he [Beck] apologized for,” referenced by Ailes in the Huffington Smackdown. None can seemingly remember Beck apologizing for anything. However, Beck did make one correction on his show, though it wasn’t much of an apology. Having called Van Jones a “convicted felon,” he was forced to take it back FOUR months later when his crack research team gave up trying to find a felony in Van Jones background.

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I would like to leave you with two addendums:

1). This is the 22nd week I have written for News Hounds in the subject of Beck. It continues to be a lot of fun and I hope it still is for my readers as well. Back in August, just before I started writing these columns, I shared the following with my friends on facebook, “Aunty Em thinks this man [Glenn Beck] has the funniest show on the tee vee and I honestly believe if you watch this show just once, you'll come back to it again and again.

“There are at least 3 laugh-aloud, belly-rolling guffaws per show. But, that's not all.

“Ben Gleck™ brings on enough crazy --- as well as The Crazies --- to power an entire Conspiracy Theory Website, with enough juice left over to still light half of Cleveland.

“It's the televised equivalent of two clown cars crashing onto each other in the middle of Times Square. While a part of you might weep at the senseless carnage and loss of life, you just can't help laughing at them running willy nilly thru' the intersection in those big shoes and red noses.”

2). I wanted to leave you with this charming bit of YouTubery that I’ve been tryng to shoehorn, with little success, into my last 3 columns. Just watch and enjoy:

With all my love,

Aunty Em